Need help with taxes? Call FCSS
With tax season quickly approaching, local Family and Community Support Services offices want to reach out to low-income individuals and seniors who may need assistance filing their 2022 income tax. Both Nampa/Northern Sunrise County and Smoky River FCSS will be offering the Volunteer Income Tax program.
“To qualify for the Nampa/Northern Sunrise County Community Services Volunteer Income Tax Program, you must be a resident of Northern Sunrise County or the Village of Nampa,” explains director of Community Services Amber Houle.
“You cannot be employed or have employment expenses, have business income and expenses, have rental income, have interest income over $1,000, have capital gains or losses, have filed for bankruptcy and we cannot file for a deceased person.”
Houle explains the program can help a single person with an income up to $35,000, a couple up to $45,000, and one adult with one child up to $37,000 (for each additional child at $2,500).
Smoky River FCSS director Crystal Tremblay says their program is very similar, offering assistance to anyone low income with simple income taxes.
“Without this service many of our seniors and low-income individuals would not be able to afford to get their income taxes done,” says Tremblay, noting that if you do not reside in Smoky River Region or the Northern Sunrise County areas to call your local FCSS as they may offer the free tax program, too. Big Lakes FCSS in High Prairie offers a similar program.
“Every year I get a few more people who have not filed in a long time. I will do back taxes for up to four years, then they need to find another source for any other outstanding taxes.”
Smoky River’s program kicks off on March 1 and runs all year to help individuals in need. Nampa/Northern Sunrise County FCSS will run their program from March 13 until April 28, and will still help people outside of that time frame.
“We can do taxes for people outside of the designated timeframe; however, we prefer clients complete their taxes on time to avoid penalties and delays in payments, such as GST and Child Tax Benefit,” says Houle.
“I know that since joining the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), we have a lot more people accessing our services to get their taxes done and we have been able to better promote the benefits associated with completing their taxes (child benefit, GST, Climate Action Rebate, OAC).”
Both Tremblay and Houle stress the importance of individuals getting their income taxes done in a prompt fashion to ensure they receive the benefits allocated by the provincial and federal governments to assist them.
“Ultimately, it is their choice who they get their taxes done through, but FCSS provides this service for free,” says Tremblay. “I work with each client to make sure that they are accessing all the supports that are available to them. If I see that a senior is missing one of the benefits, I will work with them to make sure they are entitled to that benefit.”
Houle extends Tremblay’s sentiment by adding that because most of the individuals going into their office are low income, if they had a company file their taxes for them it would cost between $80 to $100, whereas they can have it done on time and for free by their FCSS office.
The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) gives training to all registered volunteers. Both Houle and Tremblay say their staff who complete income tax filing are trained and review resources prior to income tax season. Houle explains that each volunteer needs to complete screening through CRA to ensure they are credible.
“Please note that many of the federal benefit tax slips are being made available only through the My CRA website,” says Tremblay. “If anyone has not received their tax slips Smoky River FCSS has the ability to Auto Fill My Return. This means we can pull the tax information off the CRA website, in order to make sure your taxes are completely filed.”
Both FCSS directors urge community members to reach out and receive assistance with their income tax, if they qualify for the program.
Nampa/NSC FCSS has two staff offering the service. Individuals can either book with Amber at the NSC administration building or Community Development coordinator Melanie at the Café du Coin building in St. Isidore. Melanie offers assistance in both French and English.
If you live in Nampa or Northern Sunrise County, you can call Houle at (780) 625-3287 or Melanie at 780-624-8071.
Tremblay provides income tax assistance to people in the Smoky River Region at the Town of Falher FCSS office, at the McLennan Town Office on Wednesdays in March, one day for Birch Hills County residents, and she works with the Villa Beausejour and Manoir du Lac to ensure their residents can access the service. To book an appointment with Tremblay call (780) 837-2220.
Emily Plihal Local Journalism Initiative Reporter - South Peace News - southpeacenews.com
Emily Plihal, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, South Peace News